As popular as cycling is and with the phenomenal health benefits associated with the sport, some of your employees may participate on a competitive level. Long-distance cycling is now the focus of many charity events, so if your company is a sponsor of a charity or community cycling event, you may wish to encourage your employees to participate in cycling training.
While cycling is accessible for most skill and activity levels, long-distance racing is a great physical test, and most cyclists spend many hours training to increase their strength and cardiovascular endurance. If possible, have a meeting with prospective race participants and someone from a local racing club, or bike shop, so there can be an open discussion of training plans and goals. Other suggestions for encouraging your employees could include:
- Equipment. Bicycles used for racing should fit properly and be in good mechanical order. A local cycle shop may be willing to check the fit of a bicycle and do a safety and mechanical check as a courtesy to cyclists. The shop may also be willing to offer a discount on purchases of equipment and repairs/tune-ups needed for the bicycle.
- Repairs. Cyclists should learn how to change a tire and make minor repairs to their bikes. Cycling clubs or repair shops may offer courses that cover the basics of repair and maintenance. There are also several cycling books and online videos that provide instruction.
- Clothing. Participants should be encouraged to wear proper cycling attire. This includes shorts or pants that have special padding, sometimes special jerseys that stay close to the body and remove moisture, gloves to help with the friction created from the handles and cycling shoes that attach to the pedal to increase efficiency of movement.
- Safety Highlight key safety measures, including the proper fit of the bicycle helmet. Local bicycle clubs have bicycle-safety courses and opportunities to ride with skilled riders to improve bike-handling skills. Knowing the proper way to handle a bicycle and following the proper road rules are both elements to successful training and racing.
- Nutrition. The training process should include awareness of nutrition habits. Long-distance racing is physically challenging to the body, and the proper balance of nutrients and calories affects the way the body will perform during the race and recover after the race. If you provide access to healthier foods at the office, it will help employees stay on any eating plans they have established. Health insurance companies often have nutritionists available to consult and help establish a workable food plan for people training for a race.
- Hydration. All participants should recognize the importance of staying hydrated during training and while racing. Water is the best way to replace fluids, but if anyone is cycling for longer than 60 minutes, they might consider adding a sports drink to their intake, which will help maintain their electrolyte balance and boost their energy. Your office can supply water coolers and reusable/recyclable fluid containers to help in this effort. Bicycles should be equipped with at least one bottle holder for easy access to hydration.
- Cross-training. Training the same way day after day can be boring, so encourage cyclists to cross-train with other activities and allow them a flexible work schedule to accommodate training time. If your company is forming a team for a particular race, allow time for the team to meet for training and to discuss training goals and race strategy.
Meeting your corporate goals takes teamwork and a sense of camaraderie. By taking an active interest in employee activities and encouraging participation, you’ll let your staff see that you care about them on a personal, as well as professional, level. And what you will end up finding is that long term you will boost morale, wellness and employee productivity.
Mary Parsons is retired from a 30-year career in the insurance industry. She worked in the claims department of a major insurance carrier as a claims adjuster, manager and a member of a catastrophe team. Since her retirement, she has developed a career as a freelance writer. As an insurance professional, she has been a contributor to several insurance websites.